Late rains helped late Mississippi soybeans

Mississippi producers are harvesting the last of a large and generally good soybean crop after a scare from late summer rains that threatened to ruin most of the crop.

Trey Koger, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said about 95 percent of the state’s soybeans were harvested by the end of October. The only beans remaining in the field were late-planted soybeans in the northern part of the state and along the river where spring floodwaters delayed planting.

“We were a little surprised by the overall yield. The six weeks of wet weather in August and early September caused significant damage to our earliest-planted soybeans, but overall yields have been surprisingly good,” Koger said. “The wet weather actually helped our double-cropped soybeans and later-planted beans in the northern one-third of the state.”

Koger said in general, the crop was harvested late because rain made planting season run late. Also, about 400,000 acres were double-cropped with wheat, a figure that is much higher than usual. Double-cropped acres are always planted later than the regular season crop.

The state had 2.3 million acres in soybeans, a 40 percent increase over 2007.

“Soybean prices were good, and the prices and input costs for other crops were not favorable, so farmers increased soybean acreage,” Koger said.

The late-summer rains caused a lot of seed rot on soybeans nearing maturity but gave much needed moisture to dry-land soybeans planted late. The rain did the most damage to soybeans in the Delta closest to the Mississippi River but actually helped those planted in the northern areas of the state. Because of these factors, yields have varied widely across the state.

“We have yields from 10 bushels an acre to 90 bushels an acre,” Koger said. “I’m guessing that our state average yield will be somewhere in the upper 30 bushels an acre.”

The state’s record average is just over 40 bushels an acre.

Art Smith, Extension area agronomy agent in the north Delta, said many soybeans in his area were double-cropped with wheat. Wet weather delayed planting the regular soybean crop, pushing the entire crop several weeks later than normal.

“The August and September rains really were a godsend,” Smith said. “The rains really helped that crop, and we’re going to have some spectacular yields.”

He said regular-season soybeans in the north Delta are averaging 35 to 80 bushels an acre, with most in the high end of that range. By the end of October, producers had just started harvesting those planted after wheat, and Smith expects these to yield about 40 bushels an acre.

“Sometimes these double-cropped soybeans don’t yield anything, but usually we get in the high teens or low 20 bushels an acre range,” Smith said. “Wheat beans are usually only marginally profitable, and many of our producers typically don’t plant them, but this year market prices made all soybeans a more appealing crop.”

Soybean rust made its appearance across the state this year, aided by the wet, cooler weather in late summer. Koger said there was “quite a bit” of rust in the state by the end of September and October.

“Because it developed very late, it had no significant impact on the state’s soybean crop,” Koger said. “Some farmers treated fields from a preventative standpoint, but the Extension Service never made a recommendation to spray for rust.”

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